Covid in Scotland: NHS chiefs planning vaccine roll-out in six weeks

NHS Scotland chiefs are aiming to implement a mass vaccination programme across the country in just six weeks’ time.

A leaked email reveals that health board bosses are hopeful a successful immunisation will be rolled out by mid-December.

The memo, seen by the Sunday mail, was sent by NHS Lothian director David Small. He called for meetings with Health and Social Care Partnership (HSCP) heads and local authority executives “as early as possible” to make preparations for a nationwide roll-out.

“NHS Lothian is planning for the delivery of a vaccine for Covid-19,” Small writes. “Timescales are uncertain, but we are working to an assumption that a vaccine will be available from mid-December 2020.

“This will be a mass vaccination programme to achieve the most important public health goal in our lifetimes.

“We would like to meet with HSCP and council leads in each area to brief you on the likely shape of the programme, discuss delivery options and agree how we can work together to achieve success.

“Given the tight timescale I hope you will be able to meet us as early as possible.”

READ MORE: Covid in Scotland: Scots could see ‘some doses of vaccines’ by Christmas

The Sunday Mail also reported that the NHS’s National Services Scotland has agreed a contract with an English firm to supply fridges in which a potential vaccine would be stored.

Labcold, based in Baisingstoke, will be paid £329,000 to store and transport the equipment.

When contacted NHS Lothian about the leaked email, Small said: “As part of the national response to Covid-19, NHS Lothian, along with colleagues across Scotland, is currently reviewing plans for mass vaccination, to ensure we are in a state of readiness to respond, as soon as a vaccine becomes available.

“We have asked staff who would want to volunteer to become vaccinators to let us know in order to build a database as part of general preparedness planning.”

READ MORE: Oxford Covid vaccine effective in all age groups, trials suggest

Last week, Scotland’s national clinical director Jason Leitch said Scots could be vaccinated against Covid-19 by Christmas.

He said that while officials do not expect a vaccine “in days” they are receiving encouraging vaccine news.

Commenting on the leaked email, a Scottish Government spokesperson said: “We cannot be certain when a safe and effective Covid-19 vaccine will be available.

“Our flu vaccination and Covid-19 vaccine programme board is considering how the Covid-19 vaccine will be deployed. This includes logistics such as who will deliver the vaccination and how it will be stored.

“The Joint Committee on Vaccinations and Immunisations are providing expert advice to Ministers to help inform decision making on how the vaccine supply will be deployed in Scotland.

“In Scotland we already deliver nearly two million doses of vaccine routinely every year and we have a comprehensive delivery infrastructure in place.”